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Breakfast Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 05:20 GMT 06:20 UK
Still searching for answers
Fabienne Nerac
Fabienne at a news conference yesterday
Fabienne Nerac the wife of an ITN cameraman who went missing during a friendly fire attack has made a direct appeal to the prime minister to push the search for her husband, Fred, forward.

Fabienne says she has been given no assistance from the Ministry of Defence and it is now widely thought that he is dead.

  • Fabienne Nerac was live on Breakfast this morning.


    Fabienne says that getting help from the British authorities has been almost impossible :

    I have the feeling that it's not their priority at the moment, but to me it is a priority

    But she is determined not to give up her fight to find out what happened to her husband.

    A few weeks ago she was smuggled by ITN into a press conference where she confronted the US Secretary of State Colin Powell :

    It was stressful but .. I decided that I had to act because I couldn't stay at home and wait and I thought that talking to Colin Powell would be a good thing

    Colin Powell gave Fabienne her personal promise that he would look into her case.

    And the US authorities in Iraq have given her more help since that publicity.

    But now she needs the Ministry of Defence to authorise an inquiry in Basra - something they have so far refused to do.

    French cameraman Fred Nerac and Lebanese translator Hussein Osman went missing after their vehicle was caught in a fire fight between American and Iraqi forces on March 22 as it sped from the southern city of Basra toward the Kuwaiti border.

    Veteran ITN journalist Terry Lloyd, travelling in a second vehicle, was killed in the attack.

    The missing men's press passes have been recovered, but their bodies were not found at the scene, raising hopes they may still be alive.

    Mystery remains

    For Fabienne the priority is finding a body. Terry Lloyd was recovered in the al-Jumhuriya hospital - ITN believe that a Red Crescent ambulance took him there.

    What happened to Fred and Hussein remains a mystery - there is always the remotest possibility that they may be alive.

    For Fred's family the grieving process can't really start until they know for sure what happened to him.

    Investigation

    "We are asking the British government to actively pursue an investigation into their disappearance," ITN chief executive Stuart Purvis told reporters at Monday's news conference.

    "Defence Secretary (Geoff) Hoon has told us he will not order an investigation until it is proven a war crime has been committed...But why do we have to produce evidence of such a crime to find these men?"

    ITN believe that their party were caught up in a friendly fire incident between US troops and some Iraqi vehicles.

    They think that the bullets may have come from the US troops but cannot get confirmation.

    They've got an investigation team out there in Basra looking for eye witnesses.

    The road between Az Zubayr and Basra was a main highway through a wasteland - a major route, lots of people would have seen something. They've also distributed thousands of leaflets in Arabic and English asking for help.

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    See also:

    25 Apr 03 | Derbyshire
    15 Apr 03 | England
    03 Apr 03 | UK News
    22 Mar 03 | UK News

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